Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wine Country, Bolivia

casa viejo, tarija

TH and I rarely do foreign travel repeats.  There are just too many interesting places on the planet, and not a one that I wouldn't consider visiting.  That said, I am already planning my trip back to Tarija.

Situated near the border of Argentina, Tarija boasts a lower altitude, pleasant weather, tree lined avenues, outdoor cafes, a multitude of parks, wines produced in local vineyards, friendly people, and a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle. How awesome is this?: the town closes down from 12-3pm each day for a city-wide siesta.

A few of the things we loved during our stay:

The Mercado Campesino
Held every Wednesday, this huge market is filled with the most beautiful produce and lovely braided women.  We took a taxi from the outskirts of town for $2 and were the only gringos there. (The main indoor market in the center of town is also a fascinating place to visit/eat.)

mercado campesino tarija

mercado campesino tarija

mercado campesino tarija

Strolling the Tree-Lined Streets
We walked everywhere, day and night, and felt extremely safe.  The city is so clean, and has a wonderful mix of older residential areas and hip urban shops and cafes.

streets of Tarija

streets in Tarija

streets in tarija

streets of tarija

Relaxing in the Plazas 
Here you can read the paper, sip an orange juice, get your shoes shined, feed the pigeons, soak up the sun, watch the young lovers, buy an ice cream.

plaza tarija

plaza tarija

plaza tarija

orange juice tarija

We devoured a lot of street food in Tarija (empanadas, saltenas, juices, popcorn, fruits, nuts), but also dined like royalty at the posher restaurants.  Even when we went all out (appetizers, bottles of wine, entrees, desserts, after dinner drinks) our bill was never over $35.  We loved Gattopado (awesome drinks, beautiful restaurant), El Fogon de Gringo (TH was infatuated with his 400 gram steak, while I made myself at home at the salad bar), El Marques (stunning but comfortable environment) and Cafe Mokka (best coffee in Tarija, fresh menu).

gattopardo tarija

Visiting the Vineyards
This was so special, I will address it soon in a post of its own.

vineyard casa grande tarija

Where we stayed:
The beautiful Altiplana Hotel Boutique, for $60 a night. Owned by a fabulous NZ couple and located about 10 blocks from the main plazas, this was the nicest place we stayed in Boliva. We also took daily Spanish classes with their exceptional teachers.

altiplano hotel boutique bedroom

Question: Have you ever visited a place that felt like home from day one?